Monday, 7 December 2009

Good Morning

When I was younger, I had a prodigious appetite for bed. If there was no compelling reason to get up ("getting on with one's life" or even "eating" just didn't cut it) I simply didn't. As a student, I became a nocturnal creature, going to bed in the small hours, and often only getting up around 4:00 in the afternoon. In the winter, I could easily miss daylight altogether.

My daughter seems to have inherited this propensity, and it's hard work getting her to school in the morning. I am not troubled by the hypocrisy of my semi-feigned rage when she falls back into a doze for the third or fourth time: life has its phases, and I am now a light sleeper and early-riser who has come to enjoy the view from the (admittedly shaky) moral high ground endowed by parenthood. We have to take our pleasures where we find them, especially on weekdays when staying in bed is no longer an option.

Of course, what all true late sleepers know is that you don't so much sleep during those hours as enter a trance state, in which you drift in and out of dreams and reveries. Like intoxication, this is a state which most people try to avoid, but which a minority find extremely compelling -- you become a shape-shifter, a shaman of daydreams and dozing. The Beatles song "I'm Only Sleeping" has the feeling of purposeful lassitude exactly right -- "Keeping an eye on the world going by my window".

The details of one's bedside environment become deeply imprinted by those hours of close-focus gazing. This ragged curtain, for example, in our bedroom. It's an early example of man-made fibres from the 1950s, inherited by my partner from her grandparents' house. It is covered with mysterious glyphs and graphical gestures (mainly in the direction of leaves and domestic utensils), in that sub-abstract style that passed as rather sophisticated in those days. I have meditated on its mysteries for many years. Now, that little arrowhead-shaped tear is what tells me it is morning, and time to make the visit to the bathroom I have been postponing for several hours.




Where I will encounter this east-facing blind, and these rather sophisticated faux-batik fish that will no doubt look every bit as quaint as the curtain's Picassoid leaves, pots and pans in 50 years time.


7 comments:

sarangkot said...

Before getting married I had a system of blankets instead of curtains. They threw lovely patterns on the walls in the morning. Here are two photos: blanket; patterns. I can see now (or have been told) why blankets are socially unacceptable substitutes for curtains, but I rather liked them.

Sorry for the deletions above, Mike: I was having trouble formatting the links correctly.

Mike C. said...

Yes, those would definitely keep me in bed for an extra while in the morning, very nice. There's nothing quite like blankets at the window, though, to announce: this is where the bag lady lives!

Our front garden does much the same job -- it's an utter disgrace, and must cause our neater neighbours physical pain to look at. We haven't actually got any abandoned fridges or sofas out there, but they wouldn't look out of place...

Mike

Kent Wiley said...

You've sent me through the past, Mike, upon consideration of bedrooms and windows and terrible beds. Not an unpleasant journey, all in all. And then I thought there might be something to share that's been published some time recently, and sure enough I found this. A view from a spot that I gaze at for hours while lying in bed.

I do believe my teenage daughter has inherited the "owl" genes of the family as well.

Mike C. said...

Kent,

Ah yes, the Drawer of Mystery! Those dinosaurs look very familiar... I loved to root through drawers when I was a kid. You would find real treasure in there, too, like my grandfather's trench whistle from WW1. Unless they're very discreet, that's a habit neither of my kids has picked up (probably just as well).

Mike

Kent Wiley said...

I think there's still more drawer contents to investigate. But as you recently stated, there's nothing much to be told of an emotional state by showing a picture of a thing or a person - without some context or juxtaposition.

What happened to that "trench whistle?" I'd love to see a picture of such. Which reminds me of my father's drawer (probably why I've decided to photograph the contents of my own drawer) where I found ancient stuff like the campaign button "I Like Ike" from an Eisenhower election in the 50's.

Mike C. said...

Kent,

I still have the whistle -- it's a simple dull metal "police" whistle, about three inches long with a leather strap and War Department arrow markings on it. It was used by NCOs and officers for things like gas attack warnings and, of course, "going over the top". I keep it (along with his and my parents' medals, etc.) in his "Mary Tin" -- the decorative solid brass tin of cigarettes that was presented to all troops at Christmas 1914 (Grandad was an "Old Contemptible", and fought in the Mons retreat).

If I ever get around to a project of photographing "significant personal objects", it will definitely figure.

Mike

Kent Wiley said...

Great to know that you've got this stuff safely secured. I'm not sure where my father's drawer items have gotten to, especially now that my mother's in a much smaller place than where we grew up.

My oh my, you've really got me running for the history books. Hard to believe that war is almost one hundred years in the past. There certainly has been no lack of conflict since.